Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


When a Catholic pastor quotes a heretic ….

June 7th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A Catholic Church in the Rochester Diocese ran a bulletin front page last weekend (the very weekend when new priests were being ordained!) using the writings of the notorious Protestant heretic William Barclay. About two-thirds of the front page was presented as a direct quote from Barclay. If the reader wants to know more about this Barclay fellow, consider the following link:

Far more is available on-line, even very convincing sounding arguments for universalism, for example; i.e. the belief that everybody will be saved. It is not to say that Barclay doesn’t have some “brilliant” ways of presenting error. So does Satan.  Barclay doesn’t believe Christ is God, nor does he believe in the Virgin birth. Barclay is an excellent argument for why the Lord gave us a Church, a source of authority for our protection. Brilliant and prolific as Barclay is at arguing against many Teachings of the Church, it would be unfair to turn anyone loose on Google to read his work for themselves, since most of us, and I emphatically include myself, do not have sufficient training for adequate refutation. That is why we are told not to enter into dialogue with Satan. Eve did, and look where it got her (and the rest of us.)

The Catholic pastor in the DoR church who ran Barclay’s words set them forth as truth, as example for people to follow. He gave no cautions, not even to identify that Barclay is NOT a Catholic theologian. He gave no excuse for exposing his flock to Barclay’s words and, by quoting Barclay, he implicitly presents heresy to the Catholic in the pew.

I had to think about whether or not that makes my re-presenting those words here in this post as abetting spread of the error, or rather just warning souls that they are walking toward an open manhole. Considering the influence of the person who removed the manhole cover, and his ability to continue doing the same, I have opted to present the words he presented, but without dignifying them with counter-argument as my own presentation might be too weak to be effective. So, I urge the reader to simply beware the words. If one lives in that parish, which I am not yet identifying, then especially beware of the underlying theological error so blithely presented.  From that bulletin we read:


From the commentary of William Barclay:

“What was that unity for which Jesus prayed? It was not a unity of administration or organization; it was not in any sense an ecclesiastical unity. It was a unity of personal relationship. We have already seen that the union between Jesus and the Father was one of love and obedience. It was a unity of love for which Jesus prayed, a unity in which men loved each other because they loved him, a unity based entirely on the relationship between heart and heart.

Christians will never organize their Churches all in the same way. They will never worship God all in the same way. They will never even all believe precisely the same things. But Christian unity transcends all these differences and joins men together in love. The cause of Christian unity at the present time, and indeed all through history, has been injured and hindered, because men loved their own ecclesiastical organizations, their own creeds, their own ritual, more than they loved each other. If we really loved each other and really loved Christ, no Church would exclude any man who was Christ’s disciple. Only love implanted in men’s hearts by God can tear down the barriers which they have erected between each other and between their Churches.

Further, as Jesus saw it and prayed for it, it was to be precisely that unity which convinced the world of the truth of Christianity and of the place of Christ. It is more natural for men to be divided than to be united. It is more human for men to fly apart than to come together. Real unity between all Christians would be a “supernatural fact which would require a supernatural explanation.” It is the tragic fact that it is just that united front that the Church has never shown to men. Faced by the disunity of Christians, the world cannot see the supreme value of the Christian faith. It is our individual duty to demonstrate that unity of love with our fellow men which is the answer to Christ’s prayer.”


If you cannot see within those words the rejection of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Christ founded, and an antagonism to the absolute truth of our Creed, and an ‘argument’ to admit anyone to Holy Communion, and the rejection of the efficacy of the Sacraments, then please really do re-read it until you see those errors, and so much more, as attacking what Christ Himself established. Our own weaknesses and sinfulness do not mean (as the author presumes) that we need to take control through our own behavior change, but rather to yield control to God’s plan, knowing how little we can ever do on our own, and how much we need His supernatural help.

This post is not about challenging a priest or embarrassing anyone. It is about, and hopefully always is about, protection of souls. Please join in the dialogue. People in that parish will doubtless know which parish is involved, and the rest don’t need to know in order to contribute their thoughts and experience. Please pray for those being misled. Mother of priests, please guide all your sons.


5 Responses to “When a Catholic pastor quotes a heretic ….”

  1. avatar spenceherendeen says:

    I saw this myself in this particular parish bulletin. When I read the content I was dumbstruck, despite not previously knowing who William Barclay was. When I looked up who he was, I could not believe that a Catholic priest would quote this: especially this interpretation which reeks of heretical doctrine.

    While I do not go to this parish myself: unfortunately I do have a certain tie to this parish in another manner. I was very much tempted to email or speak with the pastor, as this upset me greatly. However: even though I am a cradle Catholic, I only truly came to embrace my faith in the past few years & am still a bit timid in certain regards.

    I agree with you on prayers Diane, we need to pray for this priest. That is probably the best thing we all can do.

    St John Vianney: patron of parish priests, pray for us! (particularly for this priest)

  2. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your reaction. There is one more thing that can be done by those who know the parish and have a copy of the bulletin. You can send it to Bishop Matano asking for his intervention. If you don’t have a copy, you can get that from However, if you do so, be aware that the actual pastor’s name is wrong on the site; it is the name of a prior pastor. The name in the bulletin is correct. Your point about not feeling certain about aspects of the Faith is a very common concern, and keeps true dialogue and input from occurring. But it is always proper to say that whatever was done makes you uncomfortable, apprehensive, concerned, or disturbed, while declining to debate. You and you alone really know how it makes you ‘feel’ and no one can debate that! Peace.

  3. avatar christian says:

    While the stated content in writing may be seen at odds with “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” it pales in comparison with content from some homilies around the Diocese of Rochester in the past or in more current times, where the basic tenet of Faith has been questioned or denied: One such example is a priest alluding to the miracle of the loaves and fishes -the feeding of the five thousand-as the people present were moved by Jesus’s words to share their personal resources with others so there was enough and more, rather Jesus actually performing the multiplication in a supernatural way, the usual definition of a miracle. Consecrations have performed at few parishes by a few priests with sing the substitution of “for the peace and unity of the world,” instead of “for the forgiveness of sins.” There homily message given by a priest at one parish near on the Sunday of Advent whose readings depict the first coming and second coming of Jesus, was “Nobody’s coming!” These are a few examples. The message given is one of social justice in regard to the Gospel message of love and caring for one’s neighbor as Jesus the good teacher and leader. The message is not given for love and concern for one’s neighbor empowered by the Holy Spirit as Jesus is not only a good teacher and leader, but HE IS the Risen Lord and Savior! May the Holy Spirit fill all of us this Pentecost and open the eyes and ears of all, that God is real in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen.

  4. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Thanks, Christian. You make important points about the low quality threshold of some preaching in the DoR. Partly, I think, it is the entertainment/occasional shock culture of the world at large, partly it is laziness in preparation (especially in the preacher allowing himself to be prepared for preaching by the Holy Spirit and His Scripture, with a commitment to truth),and partly it is abominable lack of scholarship and understanding comprehensively and with integration ALL that the Church teaches. BTW, the fish sandwiches in the opened picnic basket come from Wm. Barclay!

    Many years ago I believed that we could fulfill our Sunday “obligation” by attending Mass in any Catholic Church, and that it doesn’t matter who the celebrant is. Today, I would change it to being very careful whose Mass (and homily, nee Sermon)we expose our souls to. All celebrants (now called presiders) are not equal by any means. It is all about the salvation of souls, and when one sees his or her own pastor spouting heresy, how is continued attending that presider’s Mass get justified? or even tolerated?

  5. avatar christian says:

    I agree, that I do think there is a danger exposing souls to a type of NGO agnostic or atheist type of worship where Jesus is seen mainly as a historical figure with a profound philosophy on how to live one’s way of life and a message of love on how to care for one’s neighbor.

    Some seminarians in the ’80’s relayed that entering the seminary was the worse thing for their Faith. They stated before entering the seminar at Colgate Divinity/St. Bernard’s, they had great Faith. They said after studying Theology, they lost their Faith as much of it was explained away in the study of Theology.

    I think there are some priests who do not have firm faith in the risen Lord and the life hereafter. I think it explains a lot with regard to their attitude regarding sin, confession and the need for repentance and their wording of homilies. It may also explain substitutions during the consecration of the Eucharist.

    Those parishioners who are on the cusp of their own faith and belief or who are struggling with faith issues, could be damaged listening to a priest explain away a supernatural miracle of Jesus as an explainable natural occurrence involving people’s motivations and actions, or as a phenomenon with a purely scientific basis. It could also be damaging to listen to Jesus portrayed as a historical figure and not as One who is risen, alive, and in our midst. When not acknowledging sin, and certain sins as having a consequence with regard to eternity as well as the the here and now, it can have damaging consequences.

    Thank God for the gift of Faith. I pray for those who struggle with Faith. And I ask God to increase all of our gift Faith.

    But you can see the type of problems that can be caused when a priest lacks Faith and is not concerned with Faith. There is seemingly no consequences with their relationship with God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and His Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate of the Holy Spirit. It would be difficult to minister the Faith to others if you lack that Faith in your own life.

    We really need to pray for our priests!

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